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Third Time’s a Charm for Woodson

McGillicuddy, Cavaliers advance to state tournament.

Woodson junior John McGillicuddy, making only his second start of the season, used just two pitches against a team that had already beaten the Cavaliers twice. Sound like a recipe for disaster? Try the means to a state playoff berth.

Throwing just a fastball and splitter against perennial power Lake Braddock, McGillicuddy, primarily Woodson’s starting third baseman and a relief pitcher, limited the Bruins to three runs — eight below their average — during a complete-game performance. Meanwhile, the Woodson bats came alive in an 11-3 victory on June 2 during the Northern Region semifinals at Robinson Secondary School.

Woodson lost to West Springfield in the regional title game two days later, but the Cavaliers punched their ticket to the state tournament by beating the Bruins and advancing to the regional final.

McGillicuddy said he was nervous before the game, but had a solid approach — get ahead with offspeed pitches, then bust hitters inside with fastballs — thanks to his brother, Joe McGillicuddy, who pitched against Lake Braddock earlier in the season.

"It’s an honor to be able to start this game and get that win. I love it, it feels great," John McGillicuddy said. "You can’t blow a fastball by [Lake Braddock hitters]. They’re very disciplined hitters. You’ve just got to get them off balance and work [with] what you can do. You can’t think about what they’re good at. You’ve just got to think about what I am" capable of.

McGillicuddy scattered nine hits over seven innings. He walked three, hit two batters and stuck out one. The right-hander got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the first inning when he induced a 1-2-3 double-play groundball. The Cavaliers responded with three runs in the second inning and took control. Woodson blew the game open with a five-run fifth, taking an 11-1 lead.

"When we roll [McGillicuddy] out there," Woodson head coach Chris Warren said, "we’ve got complete confidence in him on the mound."

The Cavaliers had four players earn first-team All-Patriot District honors — McGillicuddy was not one of them — but did not have a player named first-team All-Northern Region. Personal accolades didn’t matter, however, when Woodson beat McLean in the regional quarterfinals and Lake Braddock in the semis.

"One of the things we talked about in preparation for this game is we played Lake Braddock twice earlier in the year and we felt like we really hadn’t played one of our better games in each of the first two games," Warren said of the Cavaliers’ 5-2 and 11-3 regular-season losses to the Bruins. "We really talked about tonight was the night we really need to come out and show what we’re capable of and the type of team we have.

"We don’t have a single guy who’s a first-team all-region player, and for us to come out and beat the teams we have so far in this tournament says a lot about the intensity and the effort they bring to the field every day."

Woodson senior Mike Patrick had three hits and an RBI against the Bruins.

"We came in with goals at the beginning of the year," Patrick said, "and it’s great to see those come to fruition after a lot of hard work."

Brendan Breslin and David Rozner each had two hits for the Cavaliers. Ryan Lluy hit a two-run home run.

Trailing 4-0 in the third inning, Lake Braddock scored its first run of the game on an RBI double by Bobby Klein. But Woodson scored two in the fourth and five in the fifth and the Bruins couldn’t recover.

"The feeling is real low," second baseman Patch McLucas said. "Probably the lowest it’s ever been."

The Bruins finished 20-5.

"They were the better team tonight," Lake Braddock head coach Jody Rutherford said. "It started on the mound. We had a chance with them on the ropes in the first inning and we didn’t get that key hit. It’s a team that we had beaten twice and once they got up they had the feeling it was their time to beat us. … It’s hard to say what you can take away from one loss in the regional. We only lost [five] games all year. We lost to Bobby Wahl and West Springfield twice and we lost to the state champion of Florida from 6A (Flanagan Academy). We lost to three pretty good teams. This happens to be one of those games."

Woodson lost to West Springfield, 14-7, in the regional final on June 4 at Lake Braddock.